After a week of teasing, the new Entertainment Weekly article on Star Trek: Discovery is now on newsstands. Much of the key highlights from the 2-page spread, including two new images, have been released online already. However, there is one section yet to be put online, which talks about the show’s story and how Michael Burnham’s journey gets to the heart of the show.
Showrunner Aaaron Harberts explains a key moment and why the show’s focus character Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) has been described as an officer on the USS Discovery but is seen serving on the USS Shenzhou in the trailer released in May.
Sarek [James Frain] plays an important role in her life, which has been completely planned until she makes a very difficult choice that sends her life on a very different path. When we meet her, she’s the first officer on the starship Shenzhou. And Burnham’s choice that we’re alluding to is the most difficult choice you can make – it affects her, affects Starfleet, affects the Federation; it affects the entire universe. That choice leads her to a different ship, the USS Discovery and there we begin what [co-showrunner] Gretchen [Berg] and I call our second pilot.
This talk of a decision that affects the universe may set off a red alert (or at least yellow alert) for those wondering how Star Trek: Discovery fits with the rest of Trek canon.
Harberts expanded a bit on having a first officer as the show’s lead saying…
The advantage of her not being in charge of the bridge right now is we get to tell stories from a very different point of view. It’s a fresh feeling because we’re not on the bridge all the time. We get access to more parts of the ship.
His comment about Burnham not being captain “right now” is certainly interesting. As noted in a TrekMovie editorial last month, it was original showrunner Bryan Fuller’s long goal to tell a ‘lower decks’ story in Star Trek, but without him involved anymore it is possible the show may evolve into the more standard Star Trek with the lead being the captain.
Not using Roddenberry’s rule of no crew conflict
Another thing discussed in the EW article (and also previewed online) is how the show will fit with Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry’s vision of a future and mainly conflict-free Federation. This was another issue discussed in that editorial last month noting it appeared Discovery was not sticking to the more TNG-era rule of avoiding conflict within the crew. Harberts confirmed this was the case and noted how the more serialized nature of the show requires them to provide dramatic conflict…
We’re trying to do stories that are complicated, with characters with strong points of view and strong passions. People have to make mistakes – mistakes are still going to be made in the future…The thing we’re taking from Roddenberry is how we solve those conflicts. So we do have our characters in conflict, we do have them struggling with each other, but it’s about how they find a solution and work through their problems.
As noted in the online preview, having dramatic conflict within a cast is pretty much a given for modern TV shows, especially the more premium type of shows that Discovery aspires to be like. As for Roddenberry’s rule, this is mostly something that was applied to his vision of the 24th century TV shows. There was often conflict within the crew on the original Star Trek, set a century earlier.
Entertainment Weekly with Discovery feature available today
EW has previously teased out quotes on the showrunners on the show’s delay and Sonequa Martin-Green on her “vuclan struggle” and her reaction to complaints Discovery’s over diversity. They also gave us our first look at Jason Isaac’s as Captain Lorca of the USS Discovery and a transporter room on the USS Shenzhou. link
You can now pick up the issue with the Star Trek: Discovery feature on newsstands or buy it online.
Keep up with all the Star Trek: Discovery news at TrekMovie.